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'Clive of India' Statue in UK Town Saved as Local Council Votes Against Removal

Robert Clive

Robert Clive

Shropshire Council was deliberating on the issue in line with its constitution after two petitions attracted over 23,000 signatures in favour of the 'racist' statue's removal. A counter-petition in favour of the statue had also attracted 8,000 signatures.

  • PTI London
  • Last Updated: July 16, 2020, 9:46 PM IST
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A statue of Robert Clive, referred to as "Clive of India" for his role in establishing Britain's colonial domination over India in the early years of the Raj, has been saved from removal from its pride of place in Shrewsbury town centre in western England after a local council voted against it.

Shropshire Council was deliberating on the issue in line with its constitution after two petitions attracted over 23,000 signatures in favour of the "racist" statue's removal. A counter-petition in favour of the statue had also attracted 8,000 signatures.

In a vote this week, 28 councillors chose to take no action on the future of the statue, while 17 voted for action this week. Local authority's Conservative Party leader Peter Nutting said the statue should stay in Clive's birthplace and argued that there was also a statue of him in Kolkata.

"As the leader of Shropshire Council and following careful consideration of arguments for and against its removal, I now believe that the statue of Robert Clive in the Square in Shrewsbury should remain in place," said Councillor Nutting.

"Clive is clearly a notable figure in Shrewsbury's and Shropshire's history. Therefore I don't wish to be seen to be erasing him from the history books, but I do think there's a good case for educating people about his life and enabling them to form their own opinions about his deeds or misdeeds," he told the Shropshire Star.

Nutting said an information board could be put up next to the statue in the Square to help people learn about Clive and form their own opinions.

David Parton, who created one of the petitions in favour of the sculpture's removal, said he was "shocked".

"Only the complete removal of the statue will show the council is serious about racism," said Parton.

"Clive will fall, it's not a matter of if, but when. It beggars belief we have to argue this when his legacy resulted in millions of deaths. It's quite demoralising, this decision," he said.

Calls for the statue to be removed were sparked last month when Black Lives Matter protestors in Bristol tore down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston and dumped it in a harbour.

It sparked attacks on other monuments across the UK and a fierce debate on whether statues of people with links to slavery, colonialism and racism should all be removed.

Clive, who served as the Governor of Bengal under the East India Company in the 18th century, is a well-known figure in colonial Indian history.

The petitions against his statue highlight his role in the "looting" of Bengal in the early days of the British Empire, with many of the region's riches finding their way back with him to Britain.

"Just because a figure is historical, that doesn't make him good. He is nothing more than a figure of oppression and white supremacy that has, whether consciously or not, been celebrated and commemorated in Shrewsbury town centre for hundreds of years," reads one of the petitions.

There is a similar life-size statue of Clive near the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) building on King Charles Street, Whitehall, in central London.

The plinth records his two major career spurts in India, including the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and the Treaty of Allahabad in 1765.

Clive, born in Market Drayton in Shropshire before his schooling in London, travelled to India for the East India Company in 1743 before returning to his London home later in life where he died in 1774 believed to have committed suicide.

A petition for the removal of the Whitehall statue, started by an Indian-origin Londoner Ameya Tripathi, has attracted over 85,000 signatures on Change.Org and the group is now pushing for a debate by the local Westminster Council by the end of this month.

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